You could feel the atmosphere was different entering the contest. The Gators (9-8 overall, 2-4 NSAC) hammered home dunk after dunk in pregame warm-ups to get hyped. Meanwhile, the Thoroughbreds looked focused and ready to get the ball in the air. Both teams knew the stakes at hand and played this game with a playoff mentality.
VPCC had the early lead thanks to crisp passing and sharp shooting. The Gators shot 52% from the field in the first half, with a teammate assisting on 14 of their 15 field goals. However, Peninsula only lead 36-34 at halftime. Thanks to 10 BLC offensive rebounds and a 19-13 edge on the glass in total - and despite 10 turnovers with shooting 36% from the field in the first half, the Thoroughbreds were firmly in this game.
Much like the first half, the Thoroughbreds had a slow start in the second half, but eventually found their groove. BLC shot 48% from the field, plus 9-of-12 from the free throw line in the last 20 minutes. The Gators were forced into 11 second half turnovers and struggled mightily from the charity stripe, missing all six free throws after going 2-for-2 in the first half.
With 3:54 left in the contest, BLC's big man Keyshawn Bryant (18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) put the Herd up 66-55. However, the Gators would not go away quietly. VPCC's Quishan Brevard scored 17 points in the second half to keep Peninsula in the game, but Thoroughbreds forward Wol Yak took over, scoring 19 of his game-high 32 points to counteract the Gator comeback. Peninsula had one final chance to tie the game after Yak missed two free throws with one second left, but a mid-court desperation heave by 2022 NSAC most valuable player Javion Majette (17 points) came after the buzzer and wouldn't have counted.
Yak finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks, shooting an impressive 60% from the field and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. Point guard Sam Benton, Jr. chipped in 17 points. Combo guard Miigwaanhs Barrientoz ended with five points, seven rebounds (four offensive) and five assists.
The Thoroughbreds will travel to Pinehurst, N.C. to play NJCAA Division III #1 ranked Sandhills Community College this Saturday afternoon at 3pm. Broadcast information for this contest will be on
The Herd return home on Tuesday, February 14th to play Warren Wilson College in the final regular season home game before the NSAC Tournament.